NEW YORK, NY.-
Brandon Ballengée, a visual artist and biologist, exhibits sculptural installations and photographs at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
in his first major solo exhibition in New York. The exhibition, Collapse: the Cry of Silent Forms, consists of three bodies of work that explore the effect of ecological degradation on marine life and avian and amphibian populations. Synthesizing scientific inquiry with art-making, Ballengée transforms his field research into metaphors that reveal the fragility of life forms in degraded ecosystems.
Collapse responds to the global crisis of the worlds fisheries and the current threat for the unraveling of the Gulf of Mexicos food-chain following the BP oil spill. The large-scale installation, a pyramid display of hundreds of preserved fish and other aquatic organisms in gallon jars, recalls the fragile inter-relationships between Gulf species. Empty containers represent species in decline or those already lost to extinction.
A Season in Hell Series: Deadly Born Cry, (2010/2011) asks what does it mean when an individual birds gift of flight is taken away or does not develop because of untimely death? Unique scanned photographs portray birds that have been mechanically altered in utero to prohibit wing development and, additionally, young birds that were found dead for unknown reasons. The art critic Lucy Lippard has written: There is a cruel intimacy about our viewing of these tiny corpses, with their disturbing, malfunctioning beauty we have helped to create.
At the same time, the artist brings back to life a damaged creatures unexpected originality and its mythical quality.
Malamp: The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians (1996-ongoing), which studies this species for its sensitivity to changes in the environment, includes three different works. Reliquaries (2001-ongoing) comprises photographs of scanned frogs, treated to bring them to a transparent state - memorials of short-lived non-human life. The installation Styx (1996/2012) allows the viewer to observe actual chemically cleared and stained multi-limbed frog specimens lit to resemble gems or stained-glass. Un Requiem pour Flocons de Neige Blessés (2009/2011) combines music with video portraits of metamorphic toads whose trauma during development fate them to early death as they travel from water to land.
The exhibition will travel to the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, Louisiana in the fall of 2012.
Many of Ballengées works for this exhibition are made in collaboration with other scientists, artists and public participants. The Collapse sculpture was created by Ballengée et al. (B. Ballengée with T. Gardner, J. Rudloe, B. Schiering and P. Warny). The video works Committed and Dedicated were created by Ballengée et al. (B. Ballengée with A. Ballengée, P. Henken, M. Madden, and G. Wilson). The video work Un Requiem pour Flocons de Neige Blessés (A Requiem for Injured Snowflakes) includes an original musical score by Ariel Benjamin and Andrew Pasco (aka Andi Diluvian) and was created in scientific collaboration with S. Sessions and D. Green. A Season in Hell Series: Deadly Born Cry and the Malamp works were created in scientific collaboration with S. Sessions with titles by the poet KuyDelair.
Brandon Ballengée has exhibited widely, including recent solo exhibitions at Centro dArte Contemporanea, Torino, Italy and The Royal Institution of Great Britain, London, England. Love Motel for Insects: Washington DC Variation, an outdoor installation series and backdrop for community engagement, is currently on view at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Ballengée is Professor of Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts, a visiting scientist at McGill University, and a National Audubon Society Conservation Fellow. He is finalizing his Ph.D. through a collaborative program between the University of Plymouth, England and Hochschule für Gestaltung in Zurich, Switzerland. Catalogues of his work are available for sale at the Feldman Gallery.